The General Election's Big Issues: Internation Aid & Development

Zoe Smith - Writer

In this series of short articles, writers for InTuition will be looking at the biggest issues political parties need to deal with in the upcoming general election. In today's article, Zoe Smith looks at International Development:

In an increasingly globalised world, party commitments to international development will be key in the upcoming general election.
When outlining suggested approaches to development policy, it is conducive to recall the 2017 manifesto pledges concerning development whilst the 2019 manifestos are yet to be released. This post will focus on the Conservative and Labour parties in isolation, in alignment with the two party system first-past-the-post has produced.

In the 2017 manifestos, both the Conservatives and Labour paralleled a commitment to dedicating 0.7% of national income to international aid. This is arguably the only similarity between their manifesto promises concerning international development. The disparity in their approaches is apparent from the titles of their development specific party publications - Labour's 'A Global Britain' versus the Conservative's 'Leading the World in Development'. The Conservative approach to international development typically places Britain at the centre of such a narrative, emphasising the need for global leadership. Whereas Labour promotes multilateralism and the rule of international law, adopting a more inclusive approach to international proceedings.

In the upcoming election, it is expected that the 0.7% aid commitment will be upheld by both parties. This is in accordance with the 1970 UN resolution dictating such a percentage. However, it would be valuable for parties to expand on their aid commitments outside of prescribed GNI levels. Discussion of aid transparency and practices is vital in reigniting public faith in aid programmes. Labour did mention an end to the self-regulation of the Department of International Development. This intended to counteract allegations of misdirected aid spending on contractors. However, this does not go far enough in analysing how aid will be targeted with specific goals to achieve effective usage aimed at those who need it most, resulting in the improved reputation of overseas aid.

Also, it is vital that the parties confirm intended post-Brexit trade policies and their impact on workers in developing countries. Subsequent changes to international trade deals will impact human rights, levels of poverty and environmental factors in affected countries. Therefore, trade policy should be explicitly organised in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. Also, policies should emphasise how the UK will support local cooperatives and trade unions in developing countries. This places a primacy on local knowledge, desires and agency, improving living incomes and challenging the notion that development is imposed by Western leaders.

Read the previous article in our series on the general election here.


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